INTRODUCTION

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NewSchoolBoxer here with Part 2 of the complete guide to Dark Destruction (DD). The Hero Art is in a good spot in the meta and is the most budget-friendly viable deck after Wrath Awoken. Is a fair deck in that you don’t steal people’s stuff, OTK or flood a board with undercosted dinosaurs. Is a skill-rewarding deck. I hung around 1650 points Champion in August as a new player and pushed to 1800+ in September. Is also diverse in what you can run.

Knowledge from my Beginner’s Guide to Dark Destruction is assumed. Not necessary to read the whole guide if you have climbed to Rank A5 on your own. Please review the timing section, however, as I do not re-explain the terminology.

This guide is divided into 18 sections:

  1. Out of A5 Hell
  2. Deck Lists
  3. Player Tiers
  4. Dark Revelation
  5. Matchups Preface
  6. Shinku Hadoken
  7. Denjin Renki
  8. Wrath Awoken
  9. 4 Purple
  10. Uroboros
  11. Dark Destruction Mirror
  12. Spike Launch
  13. Mono Purple Resonate
  14. Yawn
  15. Charge Shot
  16. Explore Jill
  17. Bottom of the Barrel Hero Arts
  18. Beyond Dark Destruction

OUT OF A5 HELL

A5 Hell is real. I spent 40 games in it in August thinking I had the worst luck. I started reviewing my replays and could find no obvious play mistakes. It turned out what my live games were lacking, was constant analyzation. The maintained the same thought process I picked up reviewing replays:

  • Hand Analysis: “How close am I to bricking? Are there low value cards I can dump to draw into what I need?”
  • AP and Life Watching: “Can I get to 18 AP before [Juri, Purple Spider] hits me to avoid using [Obliteration]? Can I get value with [High Max] before Shadow Blade comes online? Is it time to go aggressive?”
  • Card Counting: “How many [False Throne] or [Four Eyes] or total Halts have I seen? Do I then adjust my strategy?”
  • Life as Resource: “I could block the weakened (2/3) with (3/2) Zombie. I’m at 25 life so what I should take 2 damage and then I can play the (4/1) Tyrant to block on the next attack and get an expensive card out of my hand.”
  • MP Tracking: “I saw that they had 4 MP in the last Active Response and I’m at 3. It’s late game and I haven’t seen [Fate-Defying Ryu] yet. Better charge MP so I can immediately drop the [Sample Collection] if needed.” Note: Subtract 2 for free Active Response MP if unused.

With this constant analyzation, I cruised to first-time Champion going a subsequent 31 W, 10 L and 1 Double Defeat (74% winrate) in 42 games. Previously, my thinking was just, “This is a good play!” <blank stare for 10 seconds> “That is a good play!” <blank stare for 5 seconds> “No, you didn’t!” binary logic. I had also played hyper-aggressively and didn’t charge MP unless my board was full. What I’m saying is, I increased my winrate by 20% overnight just by how I thought and played.

These days, I’m charging MP when not facing a big threat most of the time because I think of the most likely plays my opponent could make and want to be able to counter them on the spot. I will play aggressively, however, to get cards out of my hand to find an answer or close out a game. If you run out of MP, have a reason.

In fact, do not play your first card in any game until either your opponent plays one first or you charge to 8-10 MP. Be able to defend against a cheese opening – [Devilijho], [Tigrex], [Rathalos], [Kushala Daora, The Storm] or [Mikhail Victor] + [Jill, Seeker of Truth]. By keeping 5-6 MP open after playing a card, you’re signaling (or bluffing) those plays are risky because you can immediately respond with [Sample Collection] or [Obliteration]. The only possible exception is against Mono Purple Resonate, where you must dig for hard removal or lose and may wish to forgo bluffing to get a lead on the damage race.


DECK LISTS

Substitutions for commons and rares will not be given. [Spreading Infection] is mandatory.

The diversity of Dark Destruction finally shows itself. Building from the Semi-Budget List in the Beginner’s Guide, [Gathering Effluvium] and [Sodom] have got to go. [Mad Massacre] is not as useful as a third copy of [Murderous Spikes] or [Selfish Predation] at Rank A to Champion meta but can keep as a personal preference.

Of the four decks below, A5-Budget is the only one that needs epic upgrades. Rest are final form.

  1. A5-Budget
  2. Wrath Tech
  3. Licker Tech
  4. Overall Power

Epic Substitutions

  • For substitutions, [Sample Collection], [Destructive Instinct] and [Obliteration] are not exactly interchangeable at this stage due to their strengths in different matchups. While [Obliteration] is not a mandatory card, it is the best of the three against [Uroboros]. I personally dislike [Destructive Instinct] but it is a valid card to use nonetheless.
  • (0/3) [Albert Wesker] is most needed against 4 Purple where substituting with [High Max] is inadequate but fine in all other matchups.
  • (4/1) [Tyrant] must be run in some quantity. I’m on the side that 2x is correct as it is clunky in multiples. Acceptable to run just 1x if that is all you have for now. Another unit that costs 4, such as [Argus] or a second [Dynamo] may substitute. Do not run (2/4) [Vile].
  • (3/6) [William Birkin: G1] can be substituted for (2/5) [Vile MK-II]. Just less desirable in that we would rather spend 1 MP less and have the unit die off faster. A (3/6) is really just the Revenge form of (2/3) [Zombie] that costs 1 MP.

A5-Budget

Deck Code:

dyWWW4Cv0yWWWjePtzI7XyJwRwgnsgtLWX4Wn9sD7WWILnl26fLWsQ8ZWPgYuqWWIJayWnILW
9tWZfUy7WW4qTWWHtWWIWGyWWL57WWHYAWWGIZczEWWWLgUl9RtWnILWWAWZ9U8LW

Ideal substitutions would be:

  • -2x [Gathered Souls] for 2x (0/3) [Albert Wesker].*
  • -3x (2/3) Zombie for [Licker].*
  • -1x (2/5) [Arkham] for 1x (3/7) [Vile].
  • -3x [Bishamon] for 2x (4/1) [Tyrant] and 1x (3/7) [Vile].
  • -1 [Sample Collection] for 1x [Obliteration].

*Alternatively, can keep [Gathered Souls] and (2/3) [Zombie] and replace [High Max] with 2x (0/3) [Albert Wesker]. This is essentially the aggressive form of Dark Destruction. Fine to fit in [Argus] over [Bishamon] or [Vile] to go all-in on Wesker value, since the [Argus] effect works on him too.


Wrath Tech

Deck Code:

dyWWWnCv0yWWWjQhtzI7XyJwRwgnsgtLWY4Wn9sD7WWILnl26fLWytWWULgUl9BLW9tWZfUy7
WW4qTWWHtWWIgSyW4ILWWph2WIBCSXWjTsT7WW4zcWW7tWWJWo4ALg7sEWWI7gnsJvW

This is what I played to Champion in September after the release of Day of Nightmares. I used 2x [Vile MK-II], 3x [High Max] and 3x [Sample Collection] as anti-Wrath Awoken tech to success until I found that High Champion players could mitigate Vile’s effectiveness with [Disarm] or by ignoring. The average Wrath Awoken player was beaten down. No [Obliteration] because it is often too expensive to cast against Wrath and [Corrosion] assisted to remove a unit in case Sample picked the wrong one.

I ran Nemesis because Ryu was particularly common on the way up to Champion but took out after when his usage collapsed. The pre- and post-Champion metas are different. Match making at least attempts to match opponents near in rank to you. No more B matches once you hit Champion and the vast majority of your games are against fellow Champions.

[Mad Massacre] swapped with the third [Selfish Predation] at times to help fight Mono Purple Resonate, which had not completely fallen out of favor at the start of season.

Post-Champion Changes:

  • -2x [Vile MK-II] for 1x (2/3) [Arkham] and 1x [Murderous Spikes]
  • -1x [Nemesis T-Type] for [Dynamo].
  • -1x [Sample Collection] for [Obliteration].

With these changes, I pushed into High Champion.


Licker Tech

Deck Code:

dyWWWYCv0yWWWjQhtzI7XyJwRwgnsgtLWJ4Wn9sD7Wg5on8x7WI+Lnb2nVXWZf8y7WW4q9
WW4tWWVIZc8qWWSnb2YAWWIjSyWnph7WWnjWoUuLJ4sEWWgyIWZ908Rwgns9xZLnl2s7W

Bat’s list that he gave me permission to include in this guide. So jealous of Secret Zombie and Wesker! Black Secrets never come home in my game. Golden cards remain as-is. I personally use all the golden cards I have but replace them for their normal versions in this guide.

The idea is to be strong against 4 Purple by not provoking Active Response and getting value trades with [Licker]. Bat also agrees with me on 2x (4/1) [Tyrant]. I have run 4x hard removal in the past. Certainly not wrong to do so today. He took this deck to Top 100 – a feat I have not achieved.


Overall Power

Deck Code:

dyWWWvCv0yWWWjePtzI7XyJwRwgnsgtLWX4Wn9sD7WWILnl26fLWDQ8ZWPgYuqWW27gnegILW
Wp7MWJL7WW4JTWWAguLWWph2WIBCSXWjT2N7WJvzaXWjWcL7WWIWPgYsm7WytWWI7gnsJvW

This is the deck I ran in NA Qualifiers on October 5th to a Top 100 finish. I expected the meta to be 40% 4 Purple and 40% Wrath Awoken. The Nicholai-Wesker anti-synergy is deliberate, as I would play Nicholai first against 4 Purple before drawing into Wesker but try to send Wesker to the Graveyard against Wrath Awoken. That matchup is too fast to build a Revenge count and Wesker is vulnerable to [Evasive Action], as previously mentioned. I used 3x [High Max] in Ranked Mode to success until crafting Wesker.


CORE Cards Elaboration

  • Dynamo: Powerful as a one of, or possibly 2x, to trade favorably with [Tigrex], (2/8) fast Tyrant and evenly with [Devilijho]. The 4 attack also bypasses Kushala’s native [Besieged]. Occasionally dropped on an open lane alongside another unit with DD active to push for damage.
  • Gathered Souls: Some people run 3x. Two color Black/X typically runs none as they reduce your Revenge count. I used to run 3x but I found myself getting cluttered with them early game. Can play with 1 Revenge unit in deck but you risk drawing that 1 unit from Souls replacing itself to waste 2 MP. Provoking Active Response is also a bad idea against Ryu and 4 Purple (unless your board is empty) and particularly Wrath Awoken and Resonate (unless their board is empty). Keep in mind how good a time or not it is to cast. Can run (2/5) [Arkham] instead for more card value but is no less situational.
  • Selfish Predation and Murderous Spikes: So much value for what they cost. The issue is whether to run 2x or 3x of each. I’ve switched back and forth but favor 3x Spikes for its 2 MP temp gain for each copy cast against 4 Purple and desiring multiple copies in hand to guarantee value against Wrath Awoken.

    I like 3x [Selfish Predation] if Ryu and Wrath Awoken are common enough. For Wrath, not so much for the heal but as a way to activate [Tyrant] to destroy 1 attack units in response to a buff and to keep from getting board locked. Sacrifice does backfire with a [Disarm] cast in Active Response unless you have a second Predation. As of late, I feel that 2x is the right amount but a greedy list would run 3x.


Day of Nightmares Cards Elaboration

  • Agnus: His Revenge buff adds on top of the unit’s stats and any existing Revenge buff. Usually better to put on a non-Revenge unit to add another body back into the deck. Ruined if the target is sealed but worse things than a (2/5) for 4 MP that forced a seal on (3/7) [Vile], [Bishamon] or [Dynamo] that now have no weakness. The buff on (0/3) [Albert Wesker] will cause him to go back into the deck as any other unit and then return even stronger. A fine card to run, just debatable what to cut.
  • Albert Wesker: This card wins games on the spot but comes at a cost of being dead in opening hand and turning back into a (0/3) from [Evasive Action]. Non-budget lists should run one or two copies, as three becomes too greedy. Basically unplayable against Wrath Awoken but strong against all non-Green matchups and even Mono Green if you have more Wesker than they have [Evasive Action]. Single-handedly turns the 4 Purple matchup from unfavored into favored but beware of [Brainwashed] without a sacrifice outlet.
  • High Max: A Revenge flyer is a great addition to Dark Destruction. Doesn’t so much compete with (0/3) [Albert Wesker] as both are run since [High Max] boosts the Revenge count and each is strong in matchups where the other is weak. [High Max] is difficult to play against 4 Purple without getting stolen or one-shotted by Shadow Blade but is a clutch blocker against Wrath Awoken and Devil Trigger and is more threatening against Mono Green that only runs [Kushala Daora, The Storm] as a flyer. Strong in the Mono Black mirror as well where the only other flyers are Nergigante’s [Crow] and the occasional [Pyron].
  • Licker: Highest rated DD player I know Bat runs this over [Gathered Souls] because it has a similar impact in improving your board without provoking Active Response. If not familiar with Spike Divebomb effects, the most efficient way to use [Licker] is on a pre-Revenge unit that is about to block. The “Destroyed after one attack” text does not apply to blocking. Effectively, by using [Licker] on a blocker, you get two combats out of one effect.
  • Nicholai Ginovaef: If you play enough DD, you drop some games with too many situational actions in hand. Nicholai sends one card at random from hand or pocket to the graveyard on top of replacing himself, so digs 2 cards deep into your deck as [Foresight] does. Helps draw into what you need and make a bad hand more playable. Does carry a risk. Wiped out my [Spreading Infection] one game and my Revenge unit in pocket in another, but on average I feel strongly that he contributes to a positive winrate. A (2/9) stat line is also nice to survive Shinku Hadoken and dodge [Four Eyes]. His effect does not trigger if brought back with [Living Death].
  • Nemesis-T Type: A fun card that has niche use by demolishing Shinku Hadoken decks and being good enough in the Mono Black mirror. [Nemesis-T Type] is a strong first play against Mono Red and Black decks. I would say is better to place in an open lane against Red to absorb as much splash damage from [Spread Shot], [Lagiacrus] and others. Can be played against Green in a contested lane to avoid Seal Dino since drawing a [Disarm] is one less for your Revenge units that are more useful here.

    Not playable at all against 4 Purple. They run out of cards before we do but if you give them this, their late game is much stronger and, with no other cards to use, will be played non-stop. No to mention the tempo loss of losing a 5 MP card. You should count 3x [Four Eyes] before playing but by that time, you should have enough Revenge units to not want to cast an expensive (1/8).

    Do not craft. Use as a tech card when Ryu and Mono Black mirrors become common.


PLAYER TIERS

Let us define player tiers:

  • A5 Hell: A player stuck in Rank A5 due to the sharp difficulty increase from B. The struggle is real.
  • Low to Mid Champion: Champion players rated under 1650 points. This is the perfect place to use fun, off-meta decks. Plenty of that here piloted by relatively strong players. The other group has enough of a deck and skill to reach Champion, but only just. Matches against fellow Champions become the majority of games.
  • Midcard to Upper Midcard: Champion players 1650 to just over 1800 points. Not used outside this section.
  • High Champion: Champion players rated over 1800 points and who are in the Top 1000. The points requirement is needed due to few Champion players at the start of the month. Deck lists are predictable.
  • Top 100: The Top 100 players listed under Rankings in the game client who earn special emblems at end of season.

This guide has the information to take you from A5 Hell to the Midcard. High Champion to Top 100 depends on timing skill, matchup knowledge and other factors that, while covered in Dark Revelation, should not be discouragement for bettering oneself.


DARK REVELATION

I won’t lie to you. Bat, the Dark Destruction player mentioned in the previous section, has hit Top 100 with Dark Destruction, as have several Japanese players. I have not. The odds are against you due to difficulty in winning the bad matchups and no automatic win / nuts draws. Expect to win 90% of your games to climb to Top 100 due to Giant Killer matches that cost up to 30 points for a loss and reward as little as 1 or 2 points for a win.

As of October 2019, if you specifically want to place in the Top 100 then your realistic options are 4 Purple and Red/Green Wrath Awoken. I would conservatively put those two decks at 80% of the total Top 100. Uroboros was a third solid choice to hit High Champion shortly after Day of Nightmares was released but experienced players learned how to deal with it and it depends on lucky draws to beat 4 Purple and Wrath.

The hard way to Top 100 playing “fair decks” that don’t steal your stuff or OTK is Dark Destruction, Shinku Hadoken and Yawn Li – I would say in that order of preference. Shinku Hadoken has many average players and few elite that can climb to the top with a predictable deck list that varies by only 1 or 2 cards. Devil Trigger also possible, though expensive and debatable on how fair Resonate is.

Climbing with Dark Destruction is basically dodging or maximizing your chances against Wrath Awoken. I recommend experimenting with [Licker] over [Gathered Souls] to reduce board locking and provoking Active Response. The (2/5) Vile is easily played around by High Champion Wrath players but gives you another answer with [Corrosion].

I’ve heard of an occasional Spike Launch player climbing into the Top 100. Faces the same challenge you have in dodging Wrath Awoken with a much worse chance of victory.


Other Factors to Consider

I believe the most important differentiation in skill at High Champion is timing. You may have never had your (4/1) [Tyrant] last second blocker taken out with Shinku Hadoken but it can really happen with High Champion opponents. The number one trait they have in common is excellent timing. Playing some Room Match games against Bat, I believe his strength over me is specifically timing.

Finally, winning 90%+ of your games has a luck component. Camping for a Top 100 spot is prolific. Even the best players know they can’t maintain a 95% winrate. The more you play, the more likely you are to high roll into a 20-0 or 19-1 winstreak. Time of day can matter too. I believe weekdays late at night in Eastern Time (UTC-4 or -5) have more challenging opponents than during the day or weekends when casuals are more likely to be active.


MATCHUPS PREFACE

Matchup order is in the relative importance of the matchup, keeping single colored decks together and grouping very strong or very weak matchups. Indeed, the strength of the Shinku Hadoken matchup has kept Dark Destruction in the meta. If Ryu falls, we fall with him.

The chart above is a summary of the information below. Relative odds of winning versus each Hero Art have the assumption that both players are equally skilled. I don’t believe I ever lost a single Antibody Activation game with Dark Destruction in Ranked Mode, but I did lose multiple times to Tali (Talibandit in-game) in Room Match. Like the games against Bat, I noticed Tali’s timing was better than mine and was crucial in a matchup where I want to use Dark Destruction on an Antibodied [Nash] or [Demitri] before he hits me for massive damage.

There is no substitution for experience. I’ve seen streamers on their Achievements page show total player game counts in the low thousands. Top 10 player TimeRocker collected his 8th 100 win portrait on stream in September.

I’m at over 300 Ranked Match wins with Dark Destruction. The first half were part of a learning process from matchup to matchup and the second half refinement of the small details.


SHINKU HADOKEN

Dominate
(70/30)

Traditional build with no Explores except for [Lightning Bolt]. For Explore Ryu, see Explore Jill section. If I start with hard removal in hand ([Sample Collection], [Destructive Instinct], [Obliteration]), I always ramp up to 10 if Ryu doesn’t play anything. This is to a) Bait out 8 MP [Dreadking Ratholos] who dies to cheaper removal, leaving one less win condition b) Play 2 units at once to prevent [Lagiacrus] and [BB Hood] from focus firing.

General strategy is to avoid having only 1 unit on the board at a time unless it’s 7+ HP to absorb said focus fire. 2x 3 MP units are a strong lead, as is (3/7) [Vile] or [Bishamon]. As for hard removal, only use on [Fate-Defying Ryu], [Teostra] and [Dreadking Rathalos]. Hold it the whole game if you have to. If you have 3x in hand, then okay, use one on something else to reduce clutter. Use Dark Destruction on another unit if need be to guarantee Sample hits a high value target. Mid to late game it’s usually correct to hold 5-6 MP at all times. You should be able to drop hard removal as soon as the win condition is played. Easy to see coming as Ryu will keep taking hits to save MP and you can see the MP level in AR. Obviously subtract 2 for the pre-AR value.

Shinku Hadoken Hero Art requires playing around to avoid revenge units and (3/7) [Vile] getting one-shotted. Sometimes Ryu will AP hoard because he has no value targets. Each hero has a 15 second waiting period before they can use their art again. Can throw out a (4/5) [Arkham] to get destroyed then dump the rest of your Revenge units because they will each get 1 attack in before Hadoken comes back online.

Be liberal with Dark Destruction usage. Standard Ryu has no high value targets. If it’s a (2/5) or (2/6) then good enough. At 30 AP and see a (2/4) [Axl]? It dies. Late game especially, DD is used to push damage with 3-4 attack units to hover and kill last second blockers. Similar plan with [Murderous Spikes]. (2/7) [Lady] is an ideal target but not every list runs her. (1/10) [Neon Tiger] also desirable to hit since he absorbs 4-5 combats with high HP but can also die to (4/1) [Tyrant]. [Teostra] can’t exactly be played around when he comes in as a last second blocker. If he gets the victory then don’t have more than 2 units on board to deny [Super Nova] value, outside of [Spreading Infection] if you want to bait. Don’t let him get more than one victory. He has to live in the trade for victory to Explore. Of course, Nova hits Ryu’s board too. If Ryu plays a [Guy], fair to say he isn’t going to Nova when you drop a blocker.

[Fate-Defying Ryu] almost always dies to [Sample Collection] as soon as he is played before doing any damage. If I don’t have hard removal, I tap him to check action count. A count of 5 or lower means (4/9) [Tyrant] can defend once and live and 6 or lower means a (3/7) can get one combat in. Can finish off with [Mad Massacre]. Lacking other options, a 3 attack with Agility is equivalent damage to 6 attack total of your units. May be possible to win the damage race. Do not block with anything that has less HP than the action count, as the ability’s damage is done pre-combat.

In my experience, FD Ryu is run 100%, with Rathalos common if opponent is below 1800 points Champion and Teo if below 1700. Make of that what you will.

This is the best matchup for [Nemesis T-Type]. Absorbs [Lagiacrus], [BB Hood] and [Lady] damage like a boss, survives [Dragonlord’s Judgment], trades well and puts on a damage clock. Safe target for [Selfish Predation]. If in opening hand, play non-stop. Tends to be better to play (1/8) Nemesis in open lane to absorb splash damage. If Ryu ignores, you have the advantage in a 2 lane game.


DENJIN RENKI

Even

Against Denjin Renki, if all your [Selfish Predation] are denied, you probably lose. Play around [Lightning Bolt] and keep track of how many you’ve seen. Meaning if he activates Denjin, has Bolt in pocket and plays boosted [Barrel Bomb] to blow up your board, use [Selfish Predation] on a 5+ HP unit. In other cases, considering playing an action like [Murderous Spikes], let him play into Active Response and then [Selfish Predation] if he drops to less than 2 MP. Post-Denjin activation, try to keep no more than 2 units on board to deny [Barrel Bomb] value. Most lists seem to play 2. This is the matchup where I most want 3x [Selfish Predation] so add a third if you face it often enough.

Worth noting that Denjin Renki stacks with itself. For example, [Sneak Attack] can be boosted twice to deal 6 damage. Boosts Ryu’s cards already in play too so a [Neon Tiger] will deal 3 AoE damage instead of 1 if about to hit you.

Some Denjin games you just can’t win. They play a high-risk, high-reward deck and sometimes the risk pans out. Sometimes they action brick and you steamroll them.


WRATH AWOKEN

Wrath Tech: Favored
Bat’s List and Overall Power: Unfavored

The first rule is let them make the first play. (R/G) caps at 5 MP and they know you don’t. They will play a unit at 5 MP, else reveal they are the rare Mono Red variant that is much slower and therefore weaker, but beware Wrath Awoken use on the Red legendaries that dodge DD and [Corrosion]. In fact, (R/G) Wrath is the ideal matchup for (2/5) [Vile MK-II] to shine. [Corrosion] for 1 in AR is insane and game-winning. If they seal Vile, a (2/5) for 4 isn’t any worse than a (2/3) for 3.

(R/G) Wrath was only slightly favored pre-Day of Nightmares, is more favored today but the Wrath Tech list defeats it. [Corrosion] makes a huge difference in combing with DD to have cheap removal ready for Wrath targets. I remember times when I had the [Obliteration] but was just short of the MP to cast. [Sample Collection] really steps up costing 1 less and Wrath gives up having the board by the time the first Hero Art hits. [Just Desserts] would also be very strong as standard Wrath has no way to defeat it.

Playing Chicken: They have Wrath ready and you DD. Hold and hover DD over their unit. Assuming not a unit that would hit for lethal to near-lethal damage with Wrath, goal is to use DD after Wrath but before they hit you. If they play an action, KEEP HOLDING and let it time out. Keep holding no matter what. Wrath animation will hit. As soon as it finishes, let go. If their timing is too tight, you lose. They should win more than 50% of the time if equally skilled since our timing window is reactive and smaller than theirs. Can use early to play safe but then they still have Wrath available and you’re at their mercy without hard removal. Easy to notice a Wrath below 1700 points Champion because their Hero Art timing is premature.

I would argue their lists got greedier by adding [State of Nothingness] and [Layer] for more MP Boost and less Combo. (4/1) [Tyrant] gets massive value when every unit they play is weak to it. I wish I had 3x [Tyrant] for this matchup but 2x has been good enough. It’s correct to sacrifice [Tyrant] in response to a buff only if they would have less than 2 MP left to prevent a second buff, or if there are multiple targets and they can only save one. Beware of [Disarm] in response. I prefer to hold 2x [Selfish Predation] to attempt this but will try with one if behind enough.

One of their favorite tricks is to play [Heavenly Kicks Chun-Li] at 12 AP to burst to 17 for Wrath. Usually they’re smart enough not to trigger AR to reduce your hard removal cost for the first hit, then risk the [Reckless Charge].

This is the one of two matchups where [Gathering Effluvium] is actually better than Spikes since 3 MP units are played in multiples. Still, Spikes can get value. Watch their displayed MP in AR and use if at less than 2, or at any level if you have 2 Spikes and can play both. Wrath tends to dump the buff actions ASAP. Mid-game your chances are good for Spikes to hit with no +2 buff in hand to stop.

Best chance of them winning is playing 2 [Iris]/[Layer] at the start. The 60-100% MP boost is enough to overwhelm you, especially if they shield stall or play more ramp to replace what you remove. I’m talking a Wrath Awoken when you’re at 9 AP with full board and no card you can play but [Selfish Predation]. Keep in mind being board locked. May have to cast Predation to free up a slot.


4 PURPLE

Wrath Tech: Unfavored Shadow Blade, Favored Darkness Illusion
Bat’s List and Overall Power: Favored Shadow Blade, Favored Darkness Illusion

This is the most frustrating matchup to play due to bounce and steal shenanigans. Not the most difficult. Note that [Beltway] and [Demonic Intimidation] target 4 MP or less so not pre-Revenge [High Max] or (0/3) [Albert Wesker]. [High Max] is not really a good card in the matchup, as Shadow Blade has to be played around and dangerous if stolen. This is the matchup that most commonly goes to timeout so make your heals count and not get wasted by Demonic or [Splendid Buffet] in response. Fortunately, [Brainwashed] will NOT stop [Selfish Predation] from healing you if target is stolen in response. Rare that [Brainwashed] gets cast at all since they know is countered by Predation but still worth holding one in hand.

[Murderous Spikes] is a money card here and where we’d glad we run 3x. General strategy is to keep their board cleared as much as possible to deny [Beltway] and [Four Eyes] value and, when you can, try to get post-Revenge units stolen. DD can be used fairly liberally. [Lupo] and [Vector] are strong targets targets and [Juri] is ideal, though almost never run at 1800+ points Champion.

[Tigrex] is a threat and must be planned for. Opponent will run 2x or 3x. Track their MP total at every AR display. Is a good target for hard removal, [Dynamo] and (4/9) [Tyrant] trade favorably, a (3/2) [Zombie] block and then a (4/1) [Tyrant] is enough as well. [Devil Hunter Dante] less common but the hard removal you’re saving for [Tigrex] is even better suited for Dante since beating a (4/7) with native [Devil Trigger] in combat isn’t likely. Any action used on Dante is lost when he transforms in response, so don’t get trigger happy when he drops in.

Flow of game tends to be 4 Purple taking an early life lead due to weak pre-Revenge units. Eventually you hit a critical mass of Revenge + Spikes/DD board clearing and take over. They have no answer for a huge Day of Nightmares [Albert Wesker] except a 7 cost [Brainwashed] that you can use [Selfish Predation] in response on, then follow up with a second Wesker.

Monstrous Virus is uncommon but I have lost to it since they can heal with Shadow Blade while the 30 second window is active. The Darkness Illusion variant just isn’t as strong due to the amount of cards that must be devoted to Halt and with less 1 MP actions to buff any (1/6) [Trish] or [Ibuki].


UROBOROS

–Highly experience dependent–
Wrath Tech: Unfavored
Bat’s List and Overall Power: Favored

Less than half the Uroboros played [Rebirth] on my the way up to Champion, which I found hard to believe, except presumably the ones with [Rebirth] already hit Champion. The ones without it tend to play non-meta wonky cards, making them easier than typical Uroboros before Day of Nightmares.

The big thing here is not to panic. Keep calm and focus when your board is overrun. Game isn’t over yet. Rank the lanes in priority to deal with. This is your most difficult matchup to play correctly.

Keep track of the AP count on Uroboros. One of their favorite tricks is to hardcast [Devilijho] at 14, bringing them to 22 to play 2 at the same time. Is a matchup where I would prefer [Obliteration] over [Sample Collection] due to needing to avoid [Tyrant (T-103)] and [Devilijho] seldom belong on the board by itself. I often DD the second unit in play to guarantee Sample hits [Devilijho]. There are 3 lines for [Devilijho] removal:

  1. Block with (4/9) [Tyrant], (4/7) [High Max] or [Dynamo].
  2. Block with multiple units, last one typically with revenge stats so it lives.
  3. Use hard removal.

Can be a good idea to let a 2 or less attack [Devilijho] live if opponent is close to 22 AP and there isn’t another in the Graveyard to cut off Uroboros value.

Try to start saving MP as soon as they hit 11-12 AP and definitely once they hit 14-15. Good to hold onto Revenge units to defend against Uroboros tricks. Note that a single Revenge unit blocker is risky if they don’t hardcast [Devilijho] since smart Uroboros players will save MP for [Destructive Instinct] or [Obliteration] on your blocker. Keep track of where their MP is the best you can and always consider what it is after Active Response ends. If they don’t play a card for a while, something big is coming.

[Living Death] isn’t as punishing against us as other decks. Ideally you have Spikes in hand for fast Tyrant. Note that a (3/7) [Vile] WILL trade evenly with (2/8) fast Tyrant if both hit play at same time from [Living Death]. Disappoints me how units in play when [Living Death] activates go to “the next dimension” and not the Graveyard. Death effects do not trigger. This means you want to cast [Selfish Predation] in response to activate the Revenge trigger or put a non-Revenge 4 cost unit into the Graveyard to bring back.

Because it can’t be overemphasized, [Murderous Spikes] is for removing (2/8) fast Tyrant. Note that (4/5) [Arkham] trades evenly with (2/8) fast [Tyrant]. This is a buff for [Arkham] and a reason not to cut or reduce him as was common last season.

Extremely hard to use DD against anything since their (3/2) [Zombie] and (4/1) [Tyrant] are played as last second blockers. I’ve lost before with 62 AP. Use on anything that moves. [Corrosion] Vile weak here for the same reason.

Denying the heal is not quite as important as against Dark Destruction. Your mass drawing of Revenge units will put you ahead late game, minus any lost to [Living Death].

Unusual for (0/3) [Albert Wesker] and [High Max] to show up in Uroboros. Either one can be your win condition. Enemy Uroboros will spend heavily to remove pre- and post-revenge [High Max] as they know they can’t deal with it. Fun to play the (2/5) in front of slow Tyrant since [High Max] has the potential to hit the opponent at least 5 times before they trade.

You must keep in mind that like Wrath Awoken, you can’t beat the Uroboros nuts draw. The explosive potential also gives these decks the inconsistency that you lack.


DARK DESTRUCTION MIRROR

Even

The general test is if you aren’t favored in the mirror then you aren’t making it to Champion. (0/3) [Albert Wesker] is a big threat that they can protect with DD on your blocker but he dies to DD himself. [High Max] is hard to deal with since your only flying is your own [High Max] if run. Also is the only good Spikes target, as 6 cost Tyrant is rare. I use Spikes on the first full-health target I can. If (2/3) [Zombie] from [Spreading Infection], then fine, because Spikes contributes to bricking late game when there is nothing to use it on.

Matchup will test your skill with last second blocking. (4/1) [Tyrant] mostly used for this purpose but can play offensively with Spikes or your own DD to protect. Hover removal between either bottom and middle or middle and top lanes because it will highlight if a legal target in either lane is played.

Constantly measure how strong your hand is. Multiple (4/1) [Tyrant] or 5 cost [High Max]/[Albert Wesker] or hard removal is very bad and you need start dumping. Game comes down to a) Revenge draw luck b) Deck penetration c) Who has more cards in hand that can get value and therefore more options.

DD can be used to push damage on a 3 or 4 attack unit or kill top tier threats (4/9) [Tyrant], (4/7) [High Max] and (0/3) [Albert Wesker]. Can use on other Revenge units or a 4 cost target if holding onto too much AP. Again, a battle of last second blocking since DD gets less value if the target already blocked one attack.

Be careful with [Selfish Predation] and only use on a unit that can be hit by [Murderous Spikes] in response if opponent has less than 2 MP visible in Active Response, or your hand is so bad that you need to dump actions. Hard removal is very weak here. Using 5-6 cost removal actions on a full-health (3/7) [Vile], [Bishamon] or [Dynamo] they paid 4 for is good enough. Other fine use is to kill the unit they cast Predation on to stop the heal. If a less desirable target is available but you can cast for 2 less MP in Active Response, then this is probably correct.


SPIKE LAUNCH

Favored

The best Hero Art in the game at launch due to no damage cap and a 17 AP cost, Spike Launch was nerfed at the global release and become seldom seen ever since. This is both an overreaction to the nerf at the time and the lingering stigma attached to it. If a Hero Art is only 2-3% of your games then you tend to assume it’s not very good.

Spike Launch post-nerf has always been unfavored against Dark Destruction but does have early game snowball chance with powerful and cheap (3/5) Nelo Angelo and (2/5) Crow, with [Hatred Reborn] to revive them at no additional life cost. [Burn Dinorex] and [Scavenger] were additional gifts to Nergigante, at the cost of increasing the deck’s inconsistency by being dead early game.

The deck list can vary from there but be weary of [Psycho Power] or [Heartless Experiment] to defeat [Murderous Spikes] and there may not be anything you can do from [Sliding Worm] trading favorably with a weakened pre-Revenge unit. [Tyrant (T-103)] may also be seen for the fast form to benefit from attack buffs.

Nergigante folds to Revenge in a similar fashion to Ryu and damages himself on top of that. Stay focused and watch for cheap tricks.


MONO PURPLE RESONATE

Unfavored
Devil Trigger

Crushed
Wrath Tech: (10/90) Darkness Illusion,
Bat’s List and Overall Power: (30/70) Darkness Illusion

Previously a Tier 1 deck, Resonate almost hasn’t existed since Day of Nightmares release due to bad matchup spreads against Uroboros, 4 Purple and Shinku Hadoken. How convenient! Is Dark Destruction’s worst matchup. Simple gameplan is to play your highest attack units while digging for hard removal and hoping they can’t negate [Sample Collection], or they do but damage pressure makes the [Hidden Intent] life loss fatal.

[Spreading Infection] is the worst card to lead with due to only giving 5 AP and board locking you. [Selfish Predation] can be played proactively after a unit attacks to dig for hard removal, free up a board slot for a higher attack Revenge unit and gain AP for DD on [Ada Wong], [Anakaris] or the rare (1/6) [Trish] and [Dark Libido Morrigan].

Last second blocking can kill a lazy (3/5) [Devil Hunter Dante] or [Ibuki] that doesn’t expect a (5/2) [Zombie] or (2/5) flying [High Max].

Finally, don’t play into Darkness Illusion. If enemy AP is 10+ after they play a Halt, don’t play an action in response, unless it’s [Selfish Predation] on the unit the Halt targets. Don’t play a 4 or 5 cost unit while AP is that high either, unless your hand quality or low enemy life total forces it.

Devil Trigger is an easier matchup because you can’t get board wiped and the Hero Art does not stop units trading. It’s strictly a stall technique.

Beware of [Monstrous Virus] that all properly built [Devil Trigger] decks will run. Less common in Darkness Illusion or 4 Purple. There is no way to damage the opponent during the 30 second span and if played with less than 30 seconds in the game remaining, you must heal above their life total or lose. As mentioned in the 4 Purple section, [Brainwashed] cast in response to [Selfish Predation] does not prevent it from healing you, even if the unit is stolen.


YAWN

Crushed

[Felicia] who dodges Dark Destruction is more dangerous in Charge Shot but still a key threat here since you have to spend more than 6 MP in units / removal to clear. Unlike Charge Shot, Yawn runs [Dream of Restoration] that can return and replay [Felicia] – and Yawn triggers on the return to hand.

You must track the +attack buffs from [Willow], [Alia] and [General, Reploid Leader] that sit in the EX Pocket. This is to keep [Murderous Spikes] from getting blanked by a buff in response. With 2x Spikes in hand, you can proactively cast to force the +attack out then play the second copy in response. Keep in mind that 1 attack units need a +2 attack buff or two +1 buffs to dodge it.

6 MP [Chris Redfield] has fallen out of favor but is very dangerous early game where your pre-Revenge units trade inefficiently and the (+2/+2) Chris buff gains deadly value and stacks with other Victory buffs.

[Ascension Ceremony] is very gimmicky and immediately telegraphed by any Jaggi card showing up. All you need is Spikes or hard removal to cast in response. If relying on [Sample Collection]/[Obliteration], you have to keep 3-4 MP open if you suspect the card in their deck list. If it activates on a full board, could be game over on the spot. Keep in mind that it’s usually best to remove the unit targeted with Ceremony in Active Response since it still becomes a (3/6) – without Flight – if their board is not full.

This is a hard matchup due to Yawn canceling out Dark Destruction value and their buffed units trading well over your pre-Revenge mob and gaining win-more Victory triggers. Spikes is your most valuable card and should be saved for high value targets – [Kushala Daora, The Storm], 6 cost [Chris Redfield] and [Iris], with [Iris] also handled by (4/1) [Tyrant]. [Willow] in response to her attack buff is also ideal.

First play Kushala can destroy you but rare that you aren’t holding Spikes or hard removal. Can wait to 10 MP before playing a unit to trick Yawn into dumping Kushala if you have an answer in hand. Same strategy against Mono Red to trick out first play Rathalos, not that he’s as played at high rank as Kushala is.

Being a Champion Yawn player myself, I would argue the strongest Yawn Li lists run 2x [Sherry Birkin]. Sherry buffs herself as well, coming in as a (3/8) and giving the rest of board (+1/+2) to erase your Spikes value. She needs 3 Explore activations to trigger and 2 units on board for maximum value. Can justify aggressive play against Yawn Li since you are unfavored. If they can’t keep 2 units on board then charge back up to 6 MP then 11 year-old Sherry is not a threat.


CHARGE SHOT

Dominate

Your deck is naturally good against Charge Shot. Dark Destruction, Spikes, hard removal, (4/1) [Tyrant] – it’s like you’re playing against Yawn but with a more situational and worse Hero Art that forces the deck to revolve around it and play bad unit healing cards. Watch their AP count and try to keep 3 units from receiving it. X’s only comeback mechanism from an empty board is [Felicia] + Charge Shot + Heal and that costs 9 MP. Push an early lead as hard as possible if you get one. Crumbles to Revenge units if game goes late, barring Charge Shot value that you have hard removal and DD for.

The Green/Purple Charge Shot list seems stronger and uses some of [Hookshot], [Devil Trigger], [Dee], [Ada Wong], (1/6) [Trish] and [Juri, Purple Spider]. Juri need not be killed on sight, can be better to wait for a [Hookshot] or [Stealth] to come down then cast [Obliteration] in response.


EXPLORE JILL (Ultimate Weapon, Genesis, Antibody Activation)

Dominate

Antibody Activation is Jill’s best Hero Art by an enormous margin. Expensive deck to build that it is, Black has every advantage here. Green may be splashed for its arguably better Explores.

This matchup feels good. You’re basically ahead the whole game. They play weak [Mikhail Victor]/[Leon]/[Guile] Explores against your weak pre-Revenge units and Detonation is wasted on most of your deck. You only die to [Nash], [Demitri] or their legendaries. DD saved especially for [Nash] or [Demitri], else buffed (3/5) [Carlos] if you’re holding extra AP. Note that Hero Art cooldown time is 15 seconds while an attack arrow takes 10 seconds to hit (5 with agility). If you DD and then [Nash] is played, he will get 1 attack in before DD comes back online. [Demitri] will get 2 due to Rush.

Instead of tracking their Explore count, just tap on Antibody Jill and look at the “Explored: X” text box. Delay Jill getting to 3 when applicable, such as by using [Murderous Spikes] on a [Guile] or [Leon] in response to [Bushinryu Awakening].

Ultimate Weapon comes in Mono Red and Red/Purple variants, with the Purple splash arguably superior due to [New-Generation Reploids] that copies a [Rocket Launcher] and Negates to protect it. Activating Ultimate Weapon truly counts as an Explore for cards that track the amount played. This includes gaining one MP from 4 cost [Claire Redfield].

Strategy is straightforward – dig for [Selfish Predation] to defeat a Rocket that costs Jill 17 AP. Can also use [Sample Collection] in response to kill off the Rocket’s target or use [Obliteration] on your own unit, though either case is a desperation move. It’s okay to take damage. Note that (2/5) [Leon] will boost the Rocket’s damage as it is treated as any other action.

Genesis is the weakest Hero Art with the current card pool but can be activated at only 1 or 2 Explores. Massing [Detonation] or Green’s [Chimera Ride Armor] is their best gameplan.

Not much else that needs to be said about Jill. Hard removal can be used in response to their buff actions if you’re trying to dump one. Keep track of exactly what cards are in their pocket. Need hard removal for [Fate-Defying Ryu], whereas [Dreadking Rathalos] is extremely rare. [Teostra]’s Explore from winning a combat obviously counts for their push to 3. Can play around [Super Nova] the same way in the Ryu matchup by not putting 3 units on board.


BOTTOM OF THE BARREL HERO ARTS

Favored to Dominate

Metsu Shoryuken, Dive Attack, Blazing Wall, Heart Tank, Gaea Armor, Kikosho, Hyakuretsukyaku, Quicksilver, Ebony & Ivory, Bringer of Nightmares, Spike Divebomb, Change Form

I have never heard of a single person making Champion with any of these Hero Arts, with the exception of Hyakuretsukyaku before Day of Nightmares was released. Ultimate Weapon and Genesis as well but is logical to treat them together in the Explore Jill section above.

As mentioned in the Spike Launch section, keep in mind that Nergigante may be packing [Psycho Power] to buff [Crow], fast (2/8) Tyrant or [Sliding Worm]. Divebomb only sacrifices the unit when its attack hits so can get a block in first to effectively use the Hero Art twice. [Sliding Worm] + Divebomb will work to produce the [Giant Infected Worm] that is too powerful to deal with outside of hard removal.

Metsu Shoryuken, gimmicky that it is, can be dangerous with lucky high roll draws. Plays some interesting cards like [Velocidrome], [Metal Wing] and [Burn Rooster] that you otherwise would never see.

The best Heart Tank list I’ve seen is Stout Helm’s and even he admits it’s not advisable to rank up with.

Quicksilver is incredibly annoying and almost certainly overcosted at 27 AP to prevent it from being meta and generating rage quits. I’ve killed my own units off with [Selfish Predation] and [Sample Collection] to play new ones not affected by Quicksilver. Worth noting that the Hero Art not only gives Slow but prevents your blocking from doing any damage as well. Quicksilver is about as memey as TEPPEN can get and will always see some play for this reason.

I’ve actually lost to Bringer of Nightmares before with late Revenge draws. Is not a bad Hero Art but paying 12 AP for a 2 MP card that dodges Active Response has nothing on Dark Destruction or Uroboros.

The remaining Hero Arts are so wonky with unpredictable deck lists that I’m better off avoiding discussion of. Just be careful if your opponent is at Champion versus Rank A5. Part of the reward for climbing to Champion is being able to play fun decks in Ranked Mode without punishment, unless shooting for a Top 100 finish.


BEYOND DARK DESTRUCTION

The experience with Dark Destruction lends itself well to playing other Mono Black decks. Spike Launch was a refuge in pre-Day of Nightmares days to have a better matchup against Mono Purple Resonate. I joke that every Nergigante player is a former Wesker. Nice to use some different Black cards and face opponents who aren’t familiar with your deck. [Hatred Reborn] was a real gift to Nergigante to bring back [Nelo Angelo] and [Crow] for only 2 MP and without further loss of life.

Uroboros is quite expensive due to meta lists requiring 3x [Rebirth] + 3x [Tyrant (T-103)] + [Living Death] but the rest of the deck you should have already. I would say has a faster climb to Champion than Dark Destruction but a harder time getting to High Champion due to experienced players being equipped to handle the deck’s explosiveness.

Bringer of Nightmares has always been Wesker’s weakest Hero Art by paying 12 AP for 2 MP [Gathered Souls]. Is fun to play around with and try creative lists, such as a no Revenge unit build to guarantee [Agnus] and [Deal with the Devil] value when the Hero Art is activated. As the Hero Art is cheap and does not impact the board, can use whenever you want to try to throw off last second plays before combat from your opponent.


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